4 KILLED IN NOONTIME AMBUSH
Active police officer, scavenger among the victims; cop’s family insists he was a victim of mistaken identity
PO3 Micahel Santino Cortes and his two companions were enjoying their lunch at a roadside carenderia on Friday noon when a van parked nearby and peppered them with bullets.
The three were able to board their sport utility vehicle to escape. But they were chased by the van and a motorcycle boarded by two men.
The suspects did not stop raining bullets on their Kia Sorento vehicle until it finally came to a halt some 120 meters from the eatery.
Cortes and his two companions died instantly from the hail of bullets.
A female scavenger who just happened to pass by was also killed by stray bullets, lying on the pave-
ment with the sackful of scraps she intended to sell to help augment the family’s meager income.
It was another bloody day in Cebu on Friday as four more lives were added to the ever growing list of murder victims following an ambush in Sitio Ranger, Barangay Pooc, Talisay City at past 12 noon yesterday.
According to witnesses’ accounts, Cortes, 45, Dennis Patiluna, 43 and Jose Soroño, 45, were eating when a white van parked nearby.
The next thing they heard were bursts of gunfire which they said lasted for nearly two minutes.
The witnesses who requested not to be identified, said they failed to see how many men disembarked from the van and the kind of firearms being used in the attack as they were already scampering for safety.
They claimed that the three victims were able to board their vehicle and speed off but were chased by the white van and a motorcycle boarded by two men.
Patiluna was said to be the driver of the Kia Sorento with Cortes on the passenger seat. Soroño was at the backseat.
The fourth fatality was identified as Cresenciana Ranghus, 50, a scavenger.
About 120 meters from the eatery, the lifeless bodies of Cortes and Soroño where found inside the vehicle while the body of Patiluna was found sprawled on the simmering pavement.
Supt. Marlu Conag, Talisay City Police chief, said that it appeared that the victims were able to fire back at their attackers.
“Makikita sa trajectory ng sasakyan na naka fire back sila sa mga suspects,” said Conag.
He added that they have not yet received the official report from the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco), but he said that the slugs seen at the two crime scenes were possibly from high powered firearms.
Conag said that they are still investigating if Cortes and a certain PO2 Michael Cortez named by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the narco cops are one and the same.
“Hindi pa po natin yan masasabi, Iche- check pa po natin,” said Conag.
Cortes’ relatives confirmed to the media that the victim was an active police officer with a rank of police officer three.
They believed the policeman was a victim of mistaken identity.
“Kahibaw naka Digong. Aw, sa kadaghang tawng nahitaboan, hinaot unta, hinaot lang nga kining mga gipang suffer sa mga tagtungod karun kay dili mahitabo nimo,” cried the younger sister of Cortes who refused to be named.
(You know Digong [President Duterte]. This has happened to a lot of innocent victims. We just hope that what happened to us won’t happen to you)
The sister claimed that her brother is not the PO2 Michael Cortez whose name appeared on the narco list which President Duterte released in August 2016.
“Dili na siya mao! Micahel Santino na siya! Di na mao naa sa lista ni Digong. Pataka lang mo,’ said the younger sister.
(That is not him. My brother is Micahel Santino Cortes while the one in Duterte’s narco list was Michael Cortez. You are wrong!)
From a hearing
Leda Cortes, the wife of PO3 Cortes, said her husband just came from Barili town to attend a hearing for an anti-drug case.
“Nanghid siya nga moadto og Barili kay mo attend og hearing,” said Leda.
Leda said that her husband already cleared his name with Camp Crame where he undertook a lie detector test.
“Nakasulti na siya nga naay laing PO2 Michael Cortez nga na assign sab sa Central Visayas,” said Leda.
(He told me that there is somebody named PO2 Michael Cortez who was also assigned in Central Visayas)
Delia Comedero, another sister of Cortes, said her younger brother was never involved in illegal drugs.
She said that her brother was even well-loved in Talisay City.
“Ngano gud tawn malambigit siya sa drugas nga hate man kaayo na niya. Dili siya ganahan anang mga kawatan ilabi na kanang drugas, ” said Comedero.
(How can he be involved in illegal drugs when he hated that thing. He hated criminals especially those involved in illegal drugs)
Comedero said that they have lost trust in the police. “Og mga pulis wala nakoy pagsalig maihap ra. Moderetso kog duol sa Presidente. Wala ta kahibaw kinsa atong kontra gud. Wala ta kahibaw kaning pulis nabikil niya. Dili nalang ko mosalig bisan kinsa,” said Comedero.
Comedero is hoping that Duterte will do something to give justice to his brother who she said is a good police officer.
Wrong place and time
Despite yesterday’s searing midday heat, Ranghus still set out on her daily routine to get scraps to sell.
The husband of the 50-year-old scavenger, said that Ranghus roams around the city scavenging for scraps.
“Mang-iscrap man gud na siya. Kung mingaw mao na siya mag suroy (She do scavenging. She roams around Talisay City to get scraps to sell),” said Felix.
“Yawa ang gabuhat ani. Lami putlan og ulo,” (This is the handiwork of devious individuals whose heads should be cut off), Felix cried.
Delia Comedero grieves when she learned that her younger brother, PO3 Micahel Santino Cortes, was among those killed in an ambush on Friday in Sitio Ranger, Barangay Pooc in Talisay City.